The Nashville Predators return from their successful road trip where they went 2-1 to the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena. The Preds had the second best home record in the league last season with a 28-9-4 record. They started this season with two wins in two games and would like to keep that streak alive against some of the best teams in the league this week.
The face the losers of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Tampa Bay Lightning first. The Anaheim Ducks, most folks pick for Western Conference champs come in later this week after winning their first game. The week ends with a Gold Saturday Night against the Pittsburgh Penguins who have as much firepower as anyone in the league. Let’s take a look at the week ahead.
Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2)
The Lightning are chasing the red-hot Montreal team in the Atlantic Division but have started the season strong. Their 19 goals for is third in the league although they have given up 15. Steven Stamkos who along with Alex Ovechkin is the best pure goal scorer in the league has started the season with four in six games. Young Jonathan Drouin, chosen in the draft ahead of Seth Jones is playing next to him and has six points already.
The Preds beat the Lightning both times they played last season, but the Tampa Bay team got better as the year went on. They will be a formidable opponent and will take our best game to defeat them.
Anaheim Ducks (1-3-1)
The Ducks are one of the surprise teams in the NHL so far this young season and that isn’t necessarily a good thing for them. They were thought to be one of the top couple of teams in the league but started out without in a win in their first four games. They beat the Wild 4-1 on Sunday and are hoping they have it turned around although they are embarking on a five-game road trip.
In five games, the high-scoring Ducks have a grand total of five goals. Their leading scorers are Hampus Lindholm and Mike Santorelli with a goal and an assist each. They have yet to score a power-play goal and if you include them and the Penguins, the two powerhouses are a combined zero for thirty on the power play.
Top players Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry are all looking for their first goal of the season. They had 25, 2o and 33 last season. Those three are too talented to stay down for long so the Predators need to keep them frustrated for at least a little bit longer. In three games last season, the Preds went 0-2-1 so they need to change that in a hurry.
Pittsburgh Penguins (2-3)
The Penguins were another slow starting team, going o-3 before righting the ship against the Senators and lowly Maple Leafs. They still have only scored seven goals in their five games, which is third worst in the league. They had high hopes coming into the season with one of the most potent offenses in the league.
Sidney Crosby is taking the brunt of the early criticism, as he usually does because he has matched his career longest scoring drought of five games. He averages 1.35 points a game during his career so if you are playing daily fantasy, he is sure to break out soon.
The Penguins big addition in the offseason, Phil Kessel has scored a goal and an assist so far. As we mentioned earlier, the Penguins have no power play goals which is almost unthinkable. They have gotten by with at least a decent record through this tough stretch and the ‘Stone needs to be rocking the Gold on Saturday to make it as hostile as possible for the Pens.
The teams split their two games last season with both teams throwing a shutout in the opposition’s building. Former Predator Patric Hornqvist will return to Bridgestone to face his former mates and he is another one looking for his first goal.
At the beginning of the season, this three-game stretch looked almost insurmountable. With the way the season has progressed, it looks like it is time to jump on these teams before they get it all figured out. The Predators feel strongly about defending their home turf and at least a 2-1 record looks possible. That would add to their already impressive October.
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